Understanding Violence Affecting Children in Ethiopia: a Qualitative Study


This working paper describes a sub-study  by Young Lives Ethiopia on conceptualisations and understandings of violence affecting children and youth in three Ethiopian communities (one rural, two urban). Qualitative research was undertaken in May 2017, in two phases, with a total of 120 participants, using individual interviews and group discussions with children, young adults, caregivers, and professionals. 

The study found a range of terms for and definitions of violence, with differences between the rural (Oromiffa-speaking) area, where violence included harm caused by poverty, and the two urban (Amharic-speaking) sites, where violence included abuse and exploitation.  Some forms of violence were considered acceptable or unacceptable according to age and gender.  Children were said to be punished at home or at school for a range or reasons, and violence was widely understood to have lasting negative effects.  Children sought support from a range of people - mostly kin and friends, but occasionally from school clubs, headteachers, parent-teacher associations, and the police.  There were powerful barriers to reporting sexual assault and rape. 

Generally, participants reported that there has been a reduction in violence overall, though some violent practices continued, and there was a sense that gender-based violence had increased, especially harassment of older girls.  A marked intergenerational change was widely reported - especially in relation to reductions in the use of severe corporal punishment by parents - and was seen as a response to much greater awareness among caregivers of changes in the law and children's rights.